Tag Archives: riot grrrl

Girl Power Night With Pussy Riot & Transparent

Allison Wolfe (left) and Nadya Tolokno. Courtesy of Allison

Allison Wolfe (left) and Nadya Tolokno. Courtesy of Allison

Last night was a queer punk rock feminist dream come true, hanging with and hearing some key gender game-changers, past and present. First, Allison Wolfe and I went to the Ace Hotel, where Nadya Tolokno of Pussy Riot was holding court. It was the first time the original Riot Grrrl had met the original Pussy Riot girl, so that was a bit of a moment. We also ran into Mukta Mohan and Gabrielle Costa of the very cool Honey Power female DJ collective. Lots of girl power on that rooftop last night. Tolokno showed her three new videos, in which Putin’s least favorite punk raps and grooves. The former art student is pursuing a more Madonna/Peaches/PJ Harvey groove than the band’s former anarcho thrash. The videos are very sexualized, and bloody. Allison will be on a panel with Maria from Pussy Riot Monday night at the Regent, so she is on the full PR tour this week.

Afterwards, the Sex Stains goddess and I trucked up to USC, where we caught the second half of the Trans/Gender Tipping Point event organized by Jack Halberstam and Karen Tongson, two scholars whose work is not just analyzing but leading the discourse on gender variance. Four members of the Transparent artistic team talked about that show’s, er, transformative effect on trans visibility, television, and their own lives. Director Silas Howard, producers Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, and actor Trace Lysette also discussed how the show could go even further, including having feature characters who have fully transitioned. Howard, for one, is optimistic the show will continue to break ground, saying of Jill Soloway’s Transparent team, “Whenever they’re most afraid, they most bravely go forward.” Stay tuned.

Some students asked me recently what the best part of being a journalist is, and I would say it’s being a witness to the making of history. Being in a room with Howard and Wolfe again, a couple decades after we were all first connected to Revolution Girl Style, or watching Allison and Nadya talk, or being dazzled by Lysette’s simultaneous poise and vulnerability — it felt like another of those nights. That’s my blessing as a journalist; my job is to tell you about it, which I just did.

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#GrrrlsOnFiLMU in i-D

Even if noone shows up (well, actually, we’re expecting full houses), the Grrrls on Film festival will have been worth doing just for the way Hannah Ongley gets at the issues, and features a range of female directors, in this wonderful i-D story.

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#GrrrlsOnFiLMU Poster

gof_alldays
Here’s the poster for Grrrls on Film, designed by the brilliant Sharon A. Mooney. You may notice a couple changes in the schedule: Floria Sigismondi is on a shoot and will not be at the Girl Power panel Friday night, but will join us later for the screening of The Runaways. Also, the order of a couple of the events on Saturday got flipped. More announcements to come!

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#GrrrlsOnFiLMU

Dear readers,

I know I’ve been fairly quiet the last few months. Never fear: I have been busy. Along with my LMU colleague Sharon Mooney, and several other students and faculty, we have been planning. Plotting. The official announcement doesn’t come for a couple weeks, but I wanted to let friends, followers, and family know about this incredible event we are putting together:

gof_2016

GRRRLS ON FILM
MARCH 18-20, 2016
MAYER THEATER and ALUMNI MALL
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY
LOS ANGELES

Grrrls on Film will be a weekend-long cinematic celebration of the feminist act of making noise. From the experimental movies of Lizzie Borden to Riot Grrrl documentaries to the rockudramas of Floria Sigismondi, this festival will offer a multi-decade tour of ways in which women have used the sonic, stylistic, and political tools of punk to create modes of expression that subvert gender and transgress genres. Grrrls on Film draws on both movies made by female directors, including Penelope Spheeris, Alix Sichel, and Abby Moser, and movies about noisemakers, such as the Bags and Bikini Kill. It particularly offers a triptych through LA punk, from the pioneering efforts of the Runaways, through the emergence of hardcore, to the Go-Go’s pop breakthrough, to Riot Grrrls’ reclamation of Southland moshpits. Many of the directors and musicians as well as other cultural and gender studies scholars will be on hand during the three-day festival to present and discuss these seminal works, which have never before been presented together. Student-made videos will also be shown.

Grrrrls on Film is a collaboration among faculty of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, the School of Film and Television, and the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University. In addition to screenings and director’s talks, there will be a concert sponsored by KXLU and expert panels featuring filmmakers, musicians, and scholars. Organizations that promote and support women in film, music, publishing, the arts, and academia will be on hand to provide information and resources and present workshops on topics such as how to make fanzines, shoot video, or repair bikes. With the film industry under governmental and media scrutiny for gender and racial bias, we think it’s a great time to explore the history and future potential of Girl Power.

Confirmed participants include Alice Bag, Floria Sigismondi, Allison Wolfe, Penelope Spheeris, Phranc, Anna Fox, Jill Reiter, Abby Moser, Ruben Martinez, Michael Lucid, Lucretia Tye Jasmine, and Vega Darling. Some of the films featured are The Runaways (Sigismondi), The Decline of Western Civilization (Spheeris), Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden), and In Search of Margo-Go (Reiter).

Open to the public, and free! Book your flights now.

Updated Jan. 6 1 p.m.: Lucretia Tye Jasmine (Quinn and Daybreak) and Michael Lucid (Dirty Girls) added to list of participants.

Updated Jan. 6 3:15 p.m.: Also just added to the list of participating filmmakers: Lizzie Borden (Born in Flames) and Adebukola Bodunrin (Golden Chain).

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Revolution Girl Style Now: Bikini Kill Redux

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/377196871/433514653
I’ve always thought of Kathleen Hanna as a philosopher, not just a rad punk artist. She proves it once again in this interview for NPR, where she talks about the perils of outsider elitism and her admiration for Beyonce: “Whenever you’re trying to be the opposite of something, you’re just reinforcing it. We’ve got to be something totally different.”

The occasion for the interview is the release of the Bikini Kill demo tape on Sept. 22 for the first time in multiple formats. I remember getting that tape when I was music editor at the SF Weekly. I can admit now that I didn’t appreciate it that much at the time; I thought they were retreading Mecca Normal and X-Ray Spex, admittedly two of my favorite bands. (That year I named Mecca Normal singer Jean Smith my Person of the Year.) It took seeing them live at Gilman Street Project to realize the true force of Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox, and Billy Boredom. My intern, Sia Michel, was much smarter – I think she might have nabbed that tape. She’s now the editor of the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times — told you she’s smarter than me.

I’m so glad this music is coming back out and a new generation can appreciate it. I’ll be starting my First Year Seminar (Revolution Girl Style: Punk Feminism, Then and Now) next week as I always do: Playing Bikini Kill’s call to action: “We’re Bikini Kill, and we want Revolution Girl Style Now!” Then I’ll go see Kathleen and her new band, The Julie Ruin, at Burger a Go Go.

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Oh Bondage Up Yours: The Punk Rock Sexual Revolution

punkfeminismI promised I would post the remarks I made for the Punk Feminism and The F Word shows in Stanford and Oakland last week. The first half of my presentation, with images from the slide show and notes of music cues, follows. I’ll post the Patti Smith critical karaoke another day. The lecture began with music: X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage Up Yours.”

Punk is a female energy.

Look it up, in the Oxford English Dictionary. The first use of the word punk dates back to the 17th century and meant strumpet or whore. Later, the word referred to catamites, aka homosexuals, and then petty thieves. Etymologically, punks are gender outlaws – the OG victims of slut shaming and fagbashing. PunkwomenMusically, punk is the sound of dissonance, of dissent against even the hegemony of dissent. Making noise and ugliness virtues in a culture obsessed with harmony and beauty, punk’s means are destructive, but its impulse is creative. Sometimes, in its frisson of friction, lies escape.

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All Together Now: Oh Bondage Up Yours!

Alice Bag and Frightwig's Mia d'Bruzzi

Alice Bag and Frightwig’s Mia d’Bruzzi

It was literally my punk rock dream come true. There I was, on stage with some of my ultimate musical heroines, singing “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” The F Word show at Studio Grand in Oakland May 13 wasn’t just a historic first — Cali punk legends Alice Bag and Frightwig on a bill together. It was a feminist singalong and call to action. These are women, and one man (veteran keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman), who take seriously the participatory mission of DIY culture and embraced the intimate setting of a community space with photographs of social justice organizations on the wall. Though the Wig and Bag met in person for the first time that day, they quickly got into each other’s grooves and unleashed some fearsome woman power.

I did my best to warm the crowd up with a little discourse on the collusion of punk and feminism. (I’ll post my pieces later.) Having made the online introductions of the bands, I played MC and DJ (and a little Hype Woman too). After a critical karaoke of Patti Smith’s “Till Victory” (I’ll post that as well), I intro’d Bag — aka Alicia Velasquez — and her bassist, awesome Angie Skull. Alice interspersed excerpts from her memoir Violence Girl and her new book, Pipebomb for the Soul, about her days in Nicaragua with the Sandinistas, with songs. Frightwig’s Deanna Mitchell, Cecilia Kuhn, Mia d’Bruzzi, Eric Drew Feldman and I joined in as backing singers for “Women on Top” and “Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice.”

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Then, it was Frightwig‘s turn. But first, more Bag Wig McDonnell: I recited Poly-Styrene’s famous intro to “Oh Bondage Up Yours,” and then there we all were, an unplugged rendering of the classic punk feminist anthem. I even sang the second verse, Nike help me. (The goddess, not the shoemaker.) Angie, Alice and I also aided and abetted the newish Frightwig song “War on Women.”

The ‘Wig closed the evening with new songs as well as some of their classics from the 1980s, including “My Crotch Does Not Say Go.” Drummer Kuhn ended with the intense “Lament,” one of many songs that evening that probed uneven social systems and questions of identity.

We practiced our jams for the first time just an hour before the show started. It was also a rare acoustic show for Frightwig. So the night had a very raw, collaborative quality to it. Watching these women learn each other’s songs and find instant notes of harmony and grace — and of collision and dissent — was a tremendous, inspiring experience. I had gotten a taste of it the day before, at Stanford, when I watched Angie and Alice join Allison Wolfe (Sex Stains, Bratmobile, etc.) for another herstoric jam, this one a rendering of the Bratmobile ode to  a girl named “Panik.” I know punk isn’t about technical virtuosity, but I just have to say it: All these women can really sing. Without the distortion, you could hear that.

I’m so grateful that I got to be not just a witness, but a participant, in these moments.

Thanks to Vanessa at Studio Grand and to Ruben Martinez, Jeff Chang, and Ellen Oh at the Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts for making these moments happen.

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